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Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 11:08:22 -0500
From: James Jordan 
Subject: Re: (urth) Crowley, then ...

         Thou hast queried:

>Did you like 'The Deep'?

         Yes, I did.

         Then, thou hast responded to severall things I wrote. Let me say 
that I was giving my PERSONAL reaction to LB. And my initial one. alga and 
others set me straight about some things.
         Sure, I'm an evangelical Christian. So, I would not "like" a novel 
that ended in a homosexual marriage. At the same time, I might wonder what 
the author intended me to feel. Did he/she want me to be happy at the 
homosexual marriage, or were there clews in the novel that indicated I was 
not supposed to be happy about it.
         I really was not sure about LB, and that's what initiated the long 
discussion that can be read in the archives, and what I was getting at in 
my post. I sure don't want to open up another discussion of LB. I think it 
was pretty thoroughly gone over a few years ago.

> >                                                       I wanted to like
> > LB, but the ending horrified me. Instead of being glorified in any kind of
> > way that I MYSELF would like to see, they were gradually and to me
> > horrifyingly reduced to mere archetypes, flat 2-dimensional playing cards,
> > stript of all human depth, fated to eternal repetition.
>I do not agree that this is an accurate description of what
>happens to the characters.

         Maybe not. It's how it seemed to me, and still does to a large 
extent. But that's fine. You're probably right and I'm probably wrong!

> >          When I finished the book, I ripped it in half and threw it across
> > the room. Yes, I found it very effective.
> >          But what was Crowley doing? Was my response his intention? I
> > thought at the time that it was.
>Are you seriously stating that this book horrified you because its
>ending did not agree with your religious ideas?

         No, in fact the reverse. I suspected, wrongly, that Crowley was 
writing a cautionary tale, showing the gradual corruption and lessening 
(shrinkage) of human beings who turn "back" from "Western civilization" 
into an occult world.

>I find that hard to
>believe coming from one of your demonstrated perspicacity. Also,
>although I understand that you are a practicing Calvinist religious
>(and thus deeply embedded in error from my point of view), I have been
>struck before by the depth of your tolerance of foreign religious ideas,
>something that I have not always met with among the Protestant clergy.

         Thanks. I'm tolerant in some ways, not in others. But I did not 
dislike LB because of intolerance, but because it horrified me personally. 
It was a personal reaction.
         Jewish people don't like the great comedy "The Merchant of 
Venice," because they don't accept Paul's statement in Romans chapter 11 
that was taken (at the time) as a prediction that the conversion of the 
Jews would usher in the Millennium. Shakespeare wants his audience to be 
happy about the conversion of Shylock's daughter, and the "spoiling of 
Egypt" of Shylock's goods. Jewish people, however, are not going to view 
the play as a religious comedy, but as a tragedy.
         So, for me, LB was a tragedy, not a comedy. My initial question 
way back when was what Crowley intended.

>The religious viewpoint represented by John Crowley is not by any means
>that of an orthodox Christian. I can say this with some confidence, as
>the religious views he represents are tolerably close to my own.

         Yes, that became clear to me in the discussion we had here. I'm 30 
years away from reading through all of Francis Yates, and the materials 
from her circle, so I was a bit slow to pick up on Crowley's perspective. 
And I had not read AEgypt at the time I read LB.

>I don't know what you mean by paganism, but the viewpoint represented
>by Crowley is that of the religio mundi, which is not exactly at all
>quite the same thing as any of the definitions that I think of for
>pagan. So I must ask, here, what you mean by 'pagan', and how you
>feel JC represents this 'pagan' viewpoint.

         By "pagan" I meant a world in which people are strictly governed 
by archetypes and cycles. I should think hermeticism (religion mundi) to be 
a kind of sophisticated paganism. I did not mean an "insult" by calling it 

>James, what are you talking about? What is this 'infantile and pagan
>world'? What do you mean exactly?

         It seemed to me that the family were "reduced" to a kind of 
timeless and cyclical existence, like children. Timeless cycles are what 
Eliade has analyzed in contrast to Judeo-Christianity's eschatological 
linear time. That's the kind of thing I had in mind.

>The people who got transformed into playing cards were the Emperor's
>men. The family moved on, they went to repopulate the other World.

         It looked like "both" to me, that these were two complementary 
portrayals of what became of the family. As I say, that's how it looked to 
me when I read LB. On reflection, I think you are right.

>Except for Smoky. He died. Perhaps he got your Christian glorification.
>It's hard to say, like it always is.

         alga argued that Smokey's death is essential to opening the door 
to the move of the rest of the family into fairyland, so that Smokey is a 
kind of hermetic version of Christ. Makes sense to me.

> >          He says he wanted to write a novel presenting a "fairy religion."
> > He has done so, and very effectively. I continue to think LB is a 
> brilliant
> > and effective novel. But for me, it is a very effective horror novel.
>What's horrible about it?
>You spend a greater or lesser amount of time under Hill, you have a
>life, you go back under Hill for a while, you have a life. It's
>just the doctrine of metempsychosis, sometimes (inaccurately) called
>the doctrine of reincarnation.
>The beautiful thing that JC did is that he made it so that the other
>World was dying, the Gentry were dying out, and they needed some new
>people to come in, so the whole thing could go on. And the family went
>to the other World, and now it goes on. Perhaps this kind of thing needs
>to happen every so often. It's not horrible. It's very beautiful.

         Okay. Just think of me as a Jew watching *The Merchant of Venice*!
         Josh, I have no axe to grind here. I initially wondered what 
Crowley intended in LB. I shared that to show how the discussion began a 
few years back.
         I hope this clarifies things.



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